In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words.
This time we spoke to midfielder Reiss Nelson:
This season has started really well for me and that has followed on from a really good summer with England when I travelled to Azerbaijan for the European Under-17 Championship.
It was unfortunate that we went out to Spain in the quarter-finals as I think we deserved more, but I was really happy that I scored nine goals in 10 games. I was told by the manager that my job was to concentrate on scoring goals and that the team would be set up to give me the opportunities, and thankfully I managed to put away a lot of the chances my team-mates created. Having enjoyed that tournament I returned to Arsenal after the summer feeling good and I’ve continued to score, but my aim is to add even more goals to my game.
I was really happy with the goal I scored in midweek in Bulgaria in the UEFA Youth League against Ludogorets. Krystian Bielik slipped through a great ball between the full back and central defender that I ran on to and put away into the bottom corner. We should have won that game too and we really piled on the pressure at the end but we only came away with a draw, which was massively disappointing. Still, it was a useful experience as to how to try and breakdown teams who just play to defend.
I think this year I’m really benefitting from the fact that I was full time at the training ground from last year, when I was still a schoolboy. Arsenal and my school worked together so I was able to train full time. My family also moved to Cockfosters so I didn’t need to travel up from south London, where we used to live. I was able to concentrate on football and got used to how things were done at the Arsenal Training Centre. After a relaxing holiday with my family in Cyprus, I came back and did my pre-season with the first team – that was tough but I’m feeling the benefits now.
I trained with the first-team during pre-season, which helped me a lot. I’ve trained a few more times with the first team since then and it’s both harder and easier at the same time. It’s harder because you have to work on concentrating for every second and thinking ahead, because the tempo and speed of play and movement is faster, but it’s easier because when you play with top-class players the accuracy and movement is better, so more of your runs and passes count.
The challenge is to keep your standards high and every one of the younger players training with the first team says the same thing. We all feel that it boosts our development. I’m trying to improve my own game with the help of our coaches, but I really enjoy being a coach too. I’ve helped out at Hale End previously and that was good experience, but I spend a lot of time coaching my six-year-old nephew Bradley.
I can see the satisfaction our coaches get when they manage to improve players and when Bradley picks up what I’ve tried to teach him it’s a real joy to see. I’m not really into computer games or anything like that, but family time and coaching Bradley is a way I like to unwind.
I’d actually been on trial with today’s opponents Tottenham when I was six but was spotted by Arsenal scouts playing for my Sunday team, Moonshot in Catford. As soon as Arsenal showed an interest, I went straight to Hale End and left Spurs, because Arsenal were the team I supported.
When did you join the Arsenal academy?
In the under-eights.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My family, particularly my brother.
What's the best aspect of your game?
Dribbling or one-on-ones.
And what do you still need to work on?
Which team did you support as a boy?
Who did you pretend to be in the playground?
Which current player would you most like to play against?
If you could score any goal from history, which one would it be?
Zidane's left-foot volley. (against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League final)
Who has the best sense of humour?
Who is the best at FIFA?
Who has the best engine?
Who has the best turn of pace?
Who is the best with the ladies?
Who is the worst dressed?
Who is the worst dancer?
Who has the worst taste in music?